Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Although we did not have them often, brussel sprouts were one of those vegetables that I absolutely hated to eat when I was a kid. Brussel sprouts, turnips, okra and beets. Ugh! But brussel sprouts are making a comeback! I don't know what was such a turn off back then because they honestly taste like cabbage with a hint of bitterness. And I have always been a fan of cabbage.

Brussel sprouts have many health benefits. They contain flavonoid anti-oxidants which, together, offer protection from prostate, colon, prostate and endometrial cancers. Brussel sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin C, A and E. They are also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.

Because the sprouts vary in size, if you are roasting them, keep an eye out to prevent them from burning.

Brussel Sprouts

1 c balsamic vinegar
1/2 pound prosciutto, chopped
1 pound brussel sprouts
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and ground pepper, to taste

Clean brussel sprouts and remove any loose leaves. Trim bottoms from brussel sprouts and cut in half.

Heat balsamic vinegar in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Place lined baking sheet in oven.

Chop prosciutto into small pieces. Toss sprouts, olive oil, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Once baking sheet has gotten warm, remove it from oven and arrange brussel sprouts in a single layer. Note: Do not sprinkle prosciutto over the brussel sprouts until about ten minutes into roasting or it will burn. Roast brussel sprouts for approximately 20 minutes or until tender.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with balsamic glaze.

All photographs are actual pictures of the recipe listed, prepared by Sweet Treats 'n Good Eats, and cannot be used without the owner’s consent.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Arugula Pesto Pizza

It's March Madness and the North Carolina Tar Heels were playing yesterday so I wanted some basketball watching food as opposed to the typical Sunday dinner. So I made a pizza. 

Homemade pizza was a staple in my house on Friday evenings when my son was at home. But with my lifestyle/diet change and with my son being away at college, pizza has become a thing of the past. 

What I love about making pizza is that you can use a myriad of toppings - chicken breast, pepperoni, prosciutto, ground beef, Italian sausage, goat cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, pineapple, spinach, onions, mushrooms, peppers, shrimp, artichokes...whatever your little heart desires. And when I have too many choices, I will do a half and half and have two pizzas in one. In addition to the various toppings, you can use pesto, tomato or hummus as a base.

The only real noticeable difference in my pizza and the pizza I used to eat is the lack of gooey cheese. Nevertheless, the pizza turned out great and Carolina beat Creighton (87-73)...so it was a good day.

Pizza Making Tips:
  1. You will only require a small amount of sauce to make your pizza; never cover your pizza dough clear to the edge.
  2. If you use cooked vegetables on your pizza, make sure to cool them or you will have pizza "soup".
  3. Use very high heat, 450-500 degrees, and use the lower third of the oven to bake your pizza.
  4. If you are able to purchase one, get a pizza stone for your homemade pizza baking. Pizza stones make an excellent, crispy pizza crust  - but you can make a great pizza without it.
  5. To assemble your pizza, follow this order: oil, cheese, toppings, cheese, oil, garnish or oil, meat, veggies, cheese.

Kale and Arugula Pesto

1/2 c diced walnuts (OR pine nuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts)
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 c kale
1 c arugula
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
1/4 - 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
Dash of lemon juice 
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Add nuts to a small saucepan and toast on the stove top for approximately 2 minutes, tossing constantly. Remove from heat and cool.

Pulse garlic clove in food processor for about 30 seconds. Add kale, arugula toasted nuts and cheese and pulse. Add olive oil into the food processor in a steady stream until you get the consistency you desire. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in lemon juice.

Arugula Pesto Pizza

1 oz goat cheese, coarsely crumbled (or 8 oz mozzarella and 1/2 c Parmesan cheese)
1 package prosciutto
1 package pepperoni
1 lb mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 Roma tomatoes,  thinly sliced
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
10-12 black olives
Pesto or tomato sauce (as base)

Yeast Free Pizza Dough

2 tsp baking power
2 c unbleached flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c olive oil
2/3 c water
Fresh rosemary, chopped

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl. Knead on floured counter top for about 3-4 minutes. Cover with saran wrap until ready to roll and use.

Regular Pizza Dough (with yeast)

1/2 c warm water (110 degrees)
1 packet instant yeast
1 1/4 c water, room temp
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 c bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt

Measure the warm water  (110 degrees) into a liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle yeast over water and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, approximately 5 minutes. Add the 1 1/4 c water and oil. Stir to combine.

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the dry ingredients at a low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until dough forms. Replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punch the dough down.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Form both pieces of dough into round balls and cover with a damp cloth. Let dough relax for 10 minutes. Shape the dough and transfer to a pizza peel.

Making the Pizza

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Dust the pizza stone or pizza pan with cornmeal. Shape dough and place on pizza stone. Brush some olive oil on crust. Layer sauce (or pesto) on the pizza dough, then the meat of your choice, veggies, and the cheese on top.

Bake until crisp, in lower part of oven, about 10-15 minutes.

All photographs are actual pictures of the recipe listed, prepared by Sweet Treats 'n Good Eats, and cannot be used without the owner’s consent.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Apple Galette

I am not sure why I decided to make this apple galette today, with it being so hot outside, as it is way too warm to have the oven on today; and not quite time to switch the air on. I am one of those people who really needs to have a few weeks of relief between seasons so I am not going straight from heat to air overnight.

We have seemingly skipped right past spring and are expecting temperatures in the 80s and high 70s for the next week or two. Just a few weeks ago, my girlfriend's home was hit by a tornado that struck a small part of Charlotte and Concord, North Carolina. So while we are enjoying having the toes out and the promise of warm days, cool drinks, maxi dresses and jazz on the lake...this early warm weather also brings about more volatile weather patterns, which I am a little nervous about. But for today, there is none of that looming...just birds chirping, blue skies and a gorgeous, sunny day.

Apple Galette 

The Crust:
¾ c all purpose flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1/2 tbsp sugar (or 1 packet Stevia)
Dash of salt
1/4 c cold butter, diced
5-6 tbsp ice water

The Filling:

¼ c water
Dash of lemon juice
1 large apple
2 tsp brown sugar (or 2 packets of Stevia)
½ tsp cinnamon
Dash of brandy, optional

Egg Wash:
1 egg yolk
1 tsp milk

1 tbsp coarse sugar (Ex: Stevia in the Raw or Turbinado sugar)

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter (or use a food processor). When the dough resembles coarse sand, add the ice water. Mix well, until you can shape the dough into a ball. Cover with saran wrap and let dough rest in the fridge for an hour.

Mix water, lemon juice, brandy, cinnamon, and sugar together. Cut apple into wedges. Soak the wedges in the cinnamon sugar liquid. Set aside.

Mix the egg yolk and milk together to make the glaze. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take refrigerated dough and roll into a circle. Arrange apples in center of the dough, leaving the edges free. Dot with a little butter. Fold dough towards the center, bringing it up on all sides. Brush the crust with the egg wash and dust coarse sugar over the galette.

Bake in oven for approximately 30-45 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

All photographs are actual pictures of the recipe listed, prepared by Sweet Treats 'n Good Eats, and cannot be used without the owner’s consent.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

I miss eating those cheddar biscuits at Red Lobster. Every now and again if I want to cheat on my meal plan, these biscuits are more enticing to me than dessert. Unfortunately, they are not typically something you can eat just one of. So that can be a problem, particularly when you are not supposed to be eating them at all.

These biscuits are simpler than making regular homemade biscuits because drop biscuits simply require you mixing the ingredients and dropping them on a cookie sheet. No kneading, no rolling...so you too can make these popular biscuits at home.

Biscuit Making Tips:

Tip #1 - Always use very cold butter, lard or shortening. Cold ingredients will give you a flakier biscuit. You can shred the butter with a grater or just cut it in very small pieces.

Tip #2 - Mix the butter and flour just until it resembles coarse sand. You can do this with a food processor, stand mixer, pastry blender, or your hands. Be careful not to overwork the dough, if you use your hands, or you will warm the butter up.

Tip #3 - Make sure you are using very cold liquids and mix just until moistened for a lighter biscuit.

Tip #4 - Never grease the outside of the biscuit. Add butter after taking them out of the oven.

Tip #5 - Do not overbake the biscuits. Be sure to check the biscuits a few minutes early to see if they are ready to pull out.

Tip #6 - To reheat biscuits, wrap them in foil and place them in the oven (at 350 degrees) for 10 minutes, or until warm.

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c yellow cornmeal
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 stick unsalted butter (cold), cubed
2 c sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
5 scallions, finely chopped
1 1/3 c well-shaken buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, add flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and garlic powder. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand.

Dump contents into a large mixing bowl. Gently toss in scallions and cheese. Hand stir the buttermilk until  just combined.

Drop dough on lined baking sheet at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Brush butter on top while warm. Serve.

Damn these were so good. I almost licked the crumbs from the plate. Seriously.

All photographs are actual pictures of the recipe listed, prepared by Sweet Treats 'n Good Eats, and cannot be used without the owner’s consent.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

I love a good chicken pot pie. But as I have gotten older, I no longer care for the typical chicken pot pie filling so much - peas, carrots, white potatoes...and remember those icky pearl onions? I prefer to make my chicken pot pie with squash, broccolini, zucchini, kale, fresh roasted corn, mushrooms, asparagus...getting excited just thinking about lunch time approaching.

The thought of making homemade pastry can turn some away from trying a recipe -but this crust does not require a food processor and can be done in minutes. If you decide not to make a pie crust, you can use a biscuit topping, store bought puff pastry or store bought pie crust. 

I like to take Sunday's leftover whole chicken pieces to include in my filling- you can also parboil boneless skinless chicken breasts or stop by your grocery's deli and pick up a roasted chicken to pull apart and use in the filling. You can opt to make a large pie or individual pies in ramekins. Nice to have so many options!

Whole Grain Pie Crust

1 1/3 c whole grain pastry flour   
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 packet Stevia (or 1 tsp honey)
2 tbsp ice cold water

Mix flour, olive oil, salt and stevia together until everything is moistened. Add water and form dough into a ball. Roll dough. If you are using crust on the bottom of your pie, place dough in a 9' pie plate and cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Cool.

Chicken Pot Pie

3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium diced onion
2 large carrots, diced 
2 celery stalks, sliced 
1 c fresh corn
1 lb button mushrooms
1 lg squash
1 c brocolini, chopped
3 tbsp whole wheat flour 
1 ½ c chicken stock
½ c soy milk
2 c rotisserie chicken, torn into pieces
1 tsp fresh thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Melt butter in a large pot. Add the onion, carrots, celery, corn and mushrooms and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Add broccolini and squash and cook for approximately 2-4 more minutes. Toss flour over vegetable mixture and stir. Cook for a few minutes longer. Add the chicken stock and milk and bring to simmer. Stir until thickened.

Add the chicken pieces, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes.

Fill pie crust with filling. Place second pie crust on top, sealing the edges. Brush with egg wash, if you choose. Cut slits in the top of the pie and bake for 30–40 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

All photographs are actual pictures of the recipe listed, prepared by Sweet Treats 'n Good Eats, and cannot be used without the owner’s consent.